Mother’s Day, 2018: A Tribute To My Mother.

My mother was the most influential person in my development and career as a bookworm. 

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Today is celebrated as Mother’s’ Day in Australia and many other places around the world. My mother passed away in 2011, but today I want to pay tribute to her as the most influential person in my development and career as a bookworm.

IMG_0035I inherited my love of books and reading from both my parents, but it was Mum who put the consistent effort in to enabling my reading habit.

I surprised my mother – and probably everyone else, now that I think of it – by being able to read when I was three years old. In a manner entirely consistent with how I would behave for the rest of my life, I picked her up on skipping words and sentences when she was reading to me. I can understand her doing that – I’ve read the same book to kids a bazillion times, too, and it does wear a little thin. Back then, though, I was probably morally outraged as only a three year old can be when they’re getting shortchanged on a favourite story. When I read back to her the story as it was written on the page, Mum thought I had merely memorised the whole thing. So she chose a new book for me, and I read that one to her, too.

From that time on, Mum was always enthusiastic and active in encouraging me to read widely, and spent many Saturday afternoons driving me to the library so that I could borrow enough books to keep me going for two weeks.

By the time I was ten, I had read all of her Agatha Christie books and many of my grandgather’s Perry Mason and James Bond books, and I had well-loved copies of the Narnia Chronicles and the “Little House” books on my own shelf.

It was then that Mum let me read the old copy of Anne of Green Gables that her own parents had given her. I clearly remember reading Lucy Maud Montgomery’s descriptions of Prince Edward Island sand saying to her, “I’m going to go there one day.”
“You have no idea how far away that is!” she replied.
“I don’t care. I’m going!” was my response.

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I finally did go to PEI and visited Green Gables in 2015, and I wished that I could have told Mum and shown her my photos. I believe she would have been genuinely happy for me, and proud that I had achieved something I had wanted to do since that young age.

I know my mother was proud of me for following her into teaching, and I know she would have been proud as punch of the fact that I became a writer, too.

My career as a poet and author, though, would have been far less likely to happen without the love for books and reading that Mum and Dad modelled and mentored for me, and for that I will always be thankful.

My first book was not born until almost five years after Mum graduated to heaven. I couldn’t write about her passing for several years afterwards, because it was too raw. When I did finish the poem that I wrote for her, I shared it with my father and siblings so that they could share my memory. If they hadn’t loved it, I wouldn’t have published it. They did, though, and it enabled me to share part of that last day of her life to which they were not witnesses.

Since ‘July 19, 2011’ was published in ‘Nova’, it has touched and encouraged many people who have lost their mums – and dads, and others close to them. When people tell me that my poetry has touched their heart or affected the way they think about something, that’s when I feel the most fulfilled as a poet. I’m really proud today that Mum’s poem can have that effect on someone else. Although she is gone, her legacy lives on, not just in my memory and my heart, but also in my writing.

It’s impossible to not miss my mother on days like today, and not a day passes that I don’t think of her.  So, for Mothers’ Day 2018, I want to share the poem I wrote for her with you. I hope you enjoy it and find it meaningful.

 

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RIP George Michael et al 2016

“RIP George Michael,
Another favourite gone…”

RIP George Michael,
Another favourite gone.
First Bowie, then Prince and Rickman
And then it was Leonard Cohen.
But Donald Trump is alive and well –
What drug has this year been on?

Book Review: ‘In Passing’ by Tobie Hewitt

“This delightful book opens with one of the best opening lines I’ve read in a long time …”

‘In Passing’ by Tobie Hewitt is a thought-provoking story that explores questions we often have about life, death, and how we find those soul mates  we know we’re meant to be with. The characters are just gorgeous, and the struggles they face are ones that the reader can easily identify with.
This delightful book opens with one of the best opening lines I’ve read in a long time : “The air shimmered with a knowing beyond doubt.”
That line really made me stop and think, and visualise scenes where this could have been the case. From that moment, I was fully engaged with the story and completely hooked by Tobie Hewitt’s writing.
Five stars, Tobie. Beautifully done.
 in-passing

Oh, Paris.

My heart is breaking for the people of Paris, the nation of France and all those who are grieving or sharing others’ grief because of the events that are unfolding there right now.

While we don’t know all the details, we do know and must remember these things:
Not every Muslim is responsible.
Not every refugee is responsible.
We must not engage in vitriol against either group of people;
nor should we tolerate others engaging in hatred against them.

To do so would be to lose our own integrity by lowering ourselves to doing exactly what the perpetrators hope we will do.

These heinous acts are down to a few extremists who hate freedom and resent anyone who dares to have it. It seems that in their world view, they are the only ones who should be allowed to do as they please.

I hope that Justice and Karma act swiftly. Whichever of them gets to those responsible first, that’s okay with me.

Broken.

You did… what?
That was you?

I’m stunned. I am horrified.
I don’t know what to make of this.
I never would have believed that of you.

You’re the one who speaks of unity and trust.
You’re the one who is supposed to look after us… to look after me.

You’re the leader. The protector. The mentor. The guide.
At least, I thought you were.

How can I trust you now?
There are shards and splinters of faith scattered all over the place.
The fine, toxic dust of of doubt is still in the air, settling slowly, tainting everything, choking the life out of the relationship between us.

You lied. You cheated. You schemed.
You took every opportunity to work things for your own benefit.
How carefully you wove the web of deceit, trying to camouflage your actions and to conceal the heart behind them.

As for unity… you chose to break that, too.
It was no accident. You knew exactly what you were doing.
At some point, you decided that your own interests are more important than our interests… that your future takes precedence over any shared future that we might have had.

Maybe you hoped that you could do what you did without anyone knowing.

Maybe you hoped that you could evade the consequences that were always going to be inevitable.
Maybe you thought that people would just trust you to do the right thing, and  that you wouldn’t face any questions.Could you really have believed that such betrayal could go unnoticed?
It’s impossible to imagine how.
Maybe that’s a confirmation of just how different we are.

Don’t tell me I don’t know anything about it.
Don’t tell me that it has nothing to do with me.
This has everything to do with me.

This has everything to do with how I look at you, how I respond to you, how I respect you.
Only now am I beginning to realise how little I ever knew you.
I always assumed you were genuine. I never questioned your integrity, or my loyalty to you.

That’s all changed.Everything has changed.
I don’t even want to be in the same room as you.
I don’t want to hear you try to rationalise what you’ve done.
And you certainly don’t want to hear anything I have to say to you.

Don’t tell me everything will be okay. It won’t.
Things will never be the same again.

The Other Kind Of Journey.

I’ve had enough of hospitals. Waiting, wondering, hoping, fearing. Staring at walls in various shades of white, surrounded by people in scrubs who are all hurrying to be somewhere else. Steeping in the tension and quietness of suspense, strongly brewed.

I’d like to be somewhere else. Of course, I have preferences, but I wouldn’t be too choosy about a change of locale right now. Perhaps not jail, though.

Yet I am held here by forces stronger than my desire to be gone: an eclectic mix of fear, grief, loyalty, duty and belonging, amongst which the balance of power alternates at a sometimes giddy rate.

I belong here with the family, yet I know it’s different for me. I’m the only in-law here, but he’s my dad too. I’m still as afraid as they are.

I know what it’s like to lose a parent, to say goodbye that last time while still not wanting them to go at all. The others don’t know that yet. I think they all realise, though, that whether he lives or dies, they will never be the same again.

They’re blessed to be here together. When my mum died, it was just her and me. My sisters and brother couldn’t get there in time, although they desperately wanted to. It was me who watched and waited and wept in that quiet room. I sang her hymns and prayed with her. She held my hand, even though she was not conscious, and even though she had long forgotten who I was, I knew something buried deep inside her remembered me. How I longed for my siblings then. It was unfair for all of us. I had to do it on my own, but I had precious, awful time with her that they did not.

I thought about that day a lot yesterday when I knew the others were together. I’m glad they can keep each other strong. I’m glad I am here with them today.

The ominous, helpless heaviness of waiting has wrapped its dreadful cloak around us. There is nothing to be done except remain there.

Complicated.

It’s day 21 of my 28 day holiday in Canada and the US. It has been an absolute blast.
Right now we are on our way north to meet with a friend from Missouri who is driving to a small town in Illinois to meet us there. I’m looking forward to seeing her again after several years. Even so, my day is still flavoured with more sadness than I care for.

I love some of the places we have left behind but it runs much deeper and stronger than that.
I miss the very special people I have left behind. I am missing them terribly, to the point where the tears won’t stop.
I guess part of keeping a schedule is that you do have to move on and keep going, but I don’t want to.

I want to go back and spend more time. I want to drink coffee together, talk, hug, share meals, see places, and to show them how much I love and value them. I want to hold hands and hug and touch faces and talk and listen. We just didn’t have enough time together.
I don’t want to say goodbye. I don’t want to be gone.

Sometimes parting really is more sorrow than sweetness, and I don’t think I can ever be quite the same again. As much as I love Australia, it won’t ever fully be home now, because it’s true: home is where the heart is, and I have a very powerful sense of having left several large chunks of mine behind.

Complicated, eh?